The Department of Health (DOH) expressed concern on Thursday over the capacity of public utility vehicles (PUVs) under COVID-19 quarantine Alert Level 1.
“It looks like we are going back to the pre-pandemic days where we see beyond 100 percent capacity in public vehicles,” Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in Filipino, noting the overcrowding in some buses.
“We just want to remind everyone, especially the operators, as well as to our local governments and our government agencies… let’s maintain 100 percent capacity,” she added.
“Do not go beyond the 100 percent capacity because this could be the source of diseases again and our COVID-19 cases could increase again,” she said.
Metro Manila was placed under the least restrictive level in a five-tier COVID quarantine system starting March 1 as the number of new cases dropped in the country.
Under the said alert level, public transportation is allowed to operate at full capacity.
However, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday said public transport drivers should not allow standing passengers, even after quarantine restrictions were loosened.
Zona Tamayo, LTFRB’s regional director for Metro Manila, said 100 percent capacity does not mean bus operators may accommodate standing passengers.
Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation on Thursday said it will increase the passenger arrival cap at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from 5,000 to 10,000 in anticipation of the influx of passengers.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the agency’s aviation sector has prepared for the downgrading of the NCR’s alert level status to fully reopen the economy.
“Two days ago, we hit 7,500 for inbound passengers at the NAIA. And we are expecting in the next couple of days it will be 10,000 passengers. Are we ready for the gradual increase from 5,000 to 10,000? The answer is ‘yes,;” Tugade said.
Under Alert Level 1, airlines are allowed to operate at 100 percent passenger capacity with mandatory safety measures in effect.
Tugade likewise announced that the NAIA Terminal 4 will resume its operations on March 28, 2022 with domestic travel posting an increase of over 150 percent from January to February this year.
Similarly, the newly-inaugurated NAIA Taxiway Charlie will allow the airport to accommodate more arrivals and departures per day. The upgraded taxiway will increase slots from the previous 34 to 40 aircraft to 44 to 46 aircraft.
The Bureau of Immigration said it is expecting a 40 percent increase in foreigners and returning Fiipinos in the coming days, adding it is processing international passenger arrivals at the country’s ports at a record rate.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said that the number of international arriving travelers last February has increased to 211,899 compared to January’s 150,740.
Of the arrivals in February, 154,661 were Filipinos, said BI port operations chief Carlos Capulong.
“Seventy-two percent of those who arrived last February were returning Filipinos. This was followed by Americans with 21,383 arrivals, Canadians with 4,026, and British with 3,250,” Capulong said.
Capulong also assured the public that the BI is ready for the continued increase in foot traffic in the airports.
The Philippines logged 989 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total case count to 3,664,905.
The positivity rate was at 4.5 percent, which is slightly lower than the 4.7% positivity rate on Wednesday, and well within the World Health Organization’s requirement target of under 5 percent.
There were 34 new fatalities reported, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 56,538.
The DOH also reported 1,349 new recoveries, bringing the total number of recoveries to 3,557,909.
There were 50,458 active cases, of which 463 were asymptomatic; 45,510 were mild; 2,773 were moderate; 1,415 were severe; and 297 were critical.
Nationwide, 25 percent of ICU beds, 22 percent of isolation beds, 14 percent of ward beds; 12 percent of ventilators, are in use.
In Metro Manila, 25 percent of ICU beds, 22 percent of isolation beds, 24 percent of ward beds; 13 percent of ventilators, are in use.